The 2003 U.S. chess championship, the largest and richest ever, began in Seattle Thursday with 58 men and women playing in a single Swiss tournament. The enormous prize fund of $253,600 is nine times as great as that of the traditional Dutch superstar tournament now underway in Wijk aan Zee with four world champions in the lineup.

America's Foundation for Chess, the organizer of the Seattle event, wants to create a $1 million championship in the future. This year's first prize is $25,000; even the last-place finisher earns $2,100. The championship concludes Saturday and can be followed on the official Web site, www.af4c.org.

Grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov took the sole lead Saturday with three points after three rounds. Also doing well is International Master Eugene Perelshteyn, a member of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, team that won the Pan-Am Intercollegiate championship two weeks ago. His 2.5 points include a fine attacking game against GM Boris Kudrin in the Sicilian Dragon.

Perelshteyn-Kudrin

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.Bc4 Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Ne5 12.Kb1! Re8!? 13.h4 h5 14.Bh6! (The most precise move order in the Soltis variation. After 14.Bg5 Rc5! seems to be fine for black.) 14...Bh8 (Black can keep the key bishop -- the point of his 12th move.) 15.g4 Qa5 16.gxh5! (Opening the g-file is more to the point than the immediate 16.Rdg1.) 16...Nxh5 17.Rhg1 Nc4 18.Qd3 Ne5 19.Qe2 Qa6 20.Ncb5! (Keeping the fire going with the queens on the board.) 20...Kh7 21.Bc1 Rf8 (Kudrin scrambles covering all hot spots.)

22.f4! (Forcing the mighty knight away from the action.) 22...Nc4?! (Desperation time. Black sacrifices an exchange hoping to slow white down, but it doesn't work. After 22...Nc6 23.Bxf7! Rxf7 24.f5! the attack cuts through.) 23.Bxc4 Bxd4 24.Rxd4 Rxc4 25.Qxc4 Qxb5 26.Qc3 (Again white keeps the queens on the board, taking advantage of the weak dark squares around the black king.) 26...Rc8 27.Qd2 Be8 28.Rd5 Rc5 29.f5! Nf6 (After 29...Rxd5 30.exd5 Nf6 31.h5! black's position is hopeless.) 30.Qh6+ Kg8 31.Rxc5 Qxc5 32.Be3 Qc4 (After 32...Qe5 33.h5! Qh2 34.fxg6 Qxh5 35.gxf7+ Kxf7 36.Qg7+ Ke6 37.Bg5 black does not have a way out.) 33.fxg6 fxg6 (On 33...Qxe4 34.h5! decides.) 34.h5 Qxe4 35.hxg6 a6 36.Bg5! (The end. After either 36...Qxg6 37.Be3; or after 36...Bxg6 37.Bxf6 Qxc2+ 38.Ka1 white wins.) Black resigns.

A lot of fierce fighting is going on and the women often are taking charge. Look at the tactical skills of WIM Tsagaan Battsetseg, another member of the UMBC team, defeating WIM Cindy Tsai in a spirited Sicilian Najdorf game.

Battsetseg-Tsai

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f3 Be7 8.h4!? b5 9.Qd2 h6 10.Be3 (In comparison with the English Attack, white is a tempo down.) 10...Nfd7?! (Better was to act in the center 10...b4! 11.Nce2 e5!?, for example 12.Nf5 Bxf5 13.exf5 d5 with a good game for black.) 11.0-0-0! Bb7 (The pawn snatching 11...Bxh4 is dangerous, for example 12.Nd5! exd5 13.Nf5 Be7 [or 13...Bf6 14.Nxd6+ Ke7 15.Qxd5] 14.Qxd5 Qc7 15.Nxg7+ Kf8 16.Nf5 Bb7 17.Rxh6! winning.) 12.g4 b4 13.Nce2 d5 (Now it's a little bit late for the central push.)

14.Nf4!! (Playing into a fork, white is threatening to destroy black's position with a knight sacrifice on e6.) 14...e5 (Black is not backing off. After 14...dxe4 15.Ndxe6!? fxe6 16.Nxe6 Qa5 17.Nxg7+ Kd8 18.Bc4 exf3 19.Bd4 white has a strong pressure. Hiding the king on the kingside is risky, for example 14...0-0 15.Nh5 dxe4 16.Bxh6! gxh6 17.Qxh6 Bf6 18.g5 Be5 19.Rg1 and black can't stop 20.Nf6+ followed by a quick mate.) 15.Nh5! exd4 16.Nxg7+ Kf8 17.Bxh6 Rxh6? (Panicking, but after 17...Kg8 18.Nf5 white picks up a few pawns and her attack continues.) 18.Qxh6 Kg8 19.Nf5 Bf8 (On 19...Qf8 20.Qh5! dxe4 21.Bc4 Ne5 22.g5! Nxc4 23.g6 wins.) 20.Qh5! dxe4? (Better was 20...Qf6, for example 21.Bd3 Qg6 22.Qxg6+ fxg6 23.Nxd4 Bc5 24.Ne6 with advantage.) 21.g5! (Black position is collapsing and white has different ways how to succeed. Her main idea is to open the g-file.) 21...Ne5 (After 21...Qb6 22.Bc4! Ne5 23.g6 Nxg6 24.Rhg1 wins.)

22.g6! (Also winning was 22.Bc4! Bg7 [or 22...Nxc4 23.g6!] 23.g6! Qf6 24.gxf7+ Kf8 25.Qh7 Nxf7 26.Rhg1 Bh6+ 27.Kb1 threatening 28.Rg8 mate.) 22...Nxg6 (On 22...fxg6 23.Bc4+! Bd5 24.Rhg1 Ra7 25.Rxd4 wins.) 23.Rg1 (Also after 23.Bc4 Bg7 24.Rhg1 Kf8 25.Rxg6! fxg6 26.Qh7 white's attack smashes through.) 23...Bd5 24.fxe4 (Connecting the rooks with 24.Bc4! also won.) 24...b3 (After 24...Bxe4 25.Rxg6+ fxg6 26.Bc4+ Bd5 27.Qxg6+ Kh8 28.Qh5+ Kg8 29.Rg1+ wins.) 25.Rxg6+! fxg6 26.Qxg6+ Kh8 27.Qh5+ Kg8 28.Bc4! (A pretty ending. After 28...Bxc4 comes 29.Rg1+; and on 28...Ra7 29.Rg1+ Bg7 30.Bxd5+ [or 30.Qh6] 30...Kf8 31.Qh8+! Bxh8 32.Rg8 mates.) Black resigns.

Solution to today's problem by A. Galitsky (White: Kh5, Bg2,Ne7,Nf5; Black: Kf4,P:e5,f6,g3): 1.Kh6! e4 2.Ng6+! Kxf5 [2...Kg4 3.Ne3 mate] 3.Bh3 mate; or 1...Kg4 2.Ne3+ Kf4 [2...Kh4 3.N7f5 mate] 3.N7d5 mate.

White mates in three moves.